As much as I love cheeseburgers, I don’t eat them everyday.
They’re delicious, but they’re also pretty damn unhealthy. And I’d like to avoid a slew of cheeseburger-related health problems. I love my cats, so I do the same for them. I don’t buy them junk food. I buy them healthy food, and that usually means it’s a little more expensive.
I don’t mind paying a few extra bucks to keep them healthy, but some pet food brands are overpriced and sneaky. To avoid overspending on pet food, watch out for these five words.
Five sneaky pet food words
According to Consumer Reports, the word “premium” is used by a handful of pet food brands, but it doesn’t mean anything:
“A significant part of the national pet-food bill these days goes for so-called premium and super-premium varieties. But ‘premium‘ has no legal definition in terms of nutritional quality, notes Sarah Abood, D.V.M., a small-animal clinical nutritionist and assistant dean at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.”
Is your pet food “gourmet”? Because that doesn’t mean anything, either. Here’s the FDA guideline that proves it:
“Products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products.”
Pet site Dog Food Advisor says the word “natural” is another one to watch out for:
“The term ‘natural’ is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition either.”
Health site Mercola adds two more:
“Definitions for ‘holistic,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘natural’ pet foods have not been established by AAFCO [Association of American Feed Control Officials], so interpretation of what those words mean in terms of formula ingredients is left up to the manufacturer of the product.”
And here’s another disturbing fact. According to Dog Food Advisor, the following pet food ingredients are perfectly legal:
- Spoiled supermarket meats
- Contaminated grain middlings
- Slaughterhouse waste (organs, heads, hooves, beaks, feet)
- Bread and cereal rejects (hulls, stalks, mill sweepings)
- Dying, diseased and disabled farm animals
- Road kill (deer, skunks, and raccoons)
- Distiller fermentation waste
- Euthanized cats and dogs
- Restaurant grease
- Dead zoo animals
Pretty freaking disgusting, right? Keep in mind that any of these ingredients can legally be included in gourmet, natural, holistic, organic or premium pet food.
How to choose quality pet food
Consumer Reports suggests getting a food recommendation from your vet. Dog Food Advisor says the only place to find reliable information is the government-regulated part of the pet food label. Mercola advises to look for an adequacy statement from the AAFCO. They also offer specifics on which ingredients to look for and which to avoid.
By all means, pick a decent and healthy brand of food for your pet. Just don’t be fooled by the words premium, gourmet, organic, holistic or natural. They mean nothing.
Photo by FHgitarre.